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In recent days, Indigenous rights protests have taken place across the country under the slogan of 'Idle No More.' These protests were sparked in large part by the Harper government's Bill C-45, but also reflect ongoing issues around land and title rights, as well as the constitutional duty of the government to consult with First Nations. Today the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in partnership with LeadNow.ca and the Council of Canadians, put out this statement demanding consultation in the matter of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA).
First Nations Demand Harper Government Honour Constitutional Duty to Consult Regarding the Canada China FIPPA
On November 29th, the Chiefs Council of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs passed by consensus, Resolution 2012-59, Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA). As directed by resolution, the UBCIC is working with other First Nations and organizations who are deeply concerned that the Harper Government may take steps to enter into the FIPPA without fulfilling its constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized obligation to consult with First Nations.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC, stated "The UBCIC calls on the Harper Government to ensure that Canada fulfills its duty to consult and accommodate First Nations on FIPPA consistent with the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent as identified in Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Any further effort to ratify this agreement will adversely impact our inherent rights and territories forcing First Nations to take immediate legal action."
"The Federal Government has not acted with due diligence and have clearly not fulfilled constitutional obligations they have to either the First Nations or the Provinces," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "These obligations must be met before even considering the ratification of something that will give 31 year access to the resources in a way that could undermine Indigenous rights and the environment. For Stephen Harper to rush ratifying this agreement behind closed doors would be completely unacceptable."
"Tens of thousands of Canadians have spoken out against the secretive and extreme Canada-China FIPPA because it would grant foreign companies the power to sue Canadian governments in secret tribunals if our democratic decisions impact their expected profits -- even local decisions to create jobs, or protect our air, water and health," said Julia Pope from Leadnow.ca. "We are grateful for the leadership of First Nations who are opposing this deal and the affront to their constitutionally-protected aboriginal rights and title that it represents."
"First Nations expect the Stephen Harper Federal government to inform First Nations immediately if they take the position that they are not required to consult with First Nations prior to the final steps that will bring the FIPPA into force so that we can seek the assistance of the Court "said Brenda Sayers, Councillor of the Hupacasath First Nation. "Any effort to ratify the FIPPA in a hasty manner that violates the government's duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate would taint the honour of the Crown."